Supreme Court Guidelines

Rights To Speedy trial

Kratar Singh v. State Of punjab, (1994) 3 SSC 569: 1994 Cr LJ 3139

1. The right to a speedy trial is a derivation from a provision of Magna Carta. This principle has also been incorporated into the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 and from there into the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America which reads, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial…”. It may be pointed out, in this connection, that there is a Federal Act of 1974 called ‘Speedy Trial Act’ establishing a set of time-limits for carrying out the major events, e.g., information, indictment, arraignment, in the prosecution of criminal cases. See Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edn. p. 1400.

2. The right to a speedy trial is not only an important safeguard to prevent undue and oppressive incarceration, to minimise anxiety and concern accompanying the accusation and to limit the possibility of impairing the ability of an accused to defend himself but also there is a societal interest in providing a speedy trial. This right has been actuated in the recent past and the courts have laid down a series of decisions opening up new vistas of fundamental rights. In fact, lot of cases are coming before the courts for quashing of proceedings on the ground of inordinate and undue delay stating that the invocation of this right even need not await formal indictment or charge.

3. The concept of speedy trial is read into Article 21 as an essential part of the fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed and preserved under our Constitution. The right to speedy trial begins with the actual restraint imposed by arrest and consequent incarceration and continues at all stages, namely, the stage of investigation, inquiry, trial, appeal and revision so that any possible prejudice that may result from impermissible and avoidable delay from the time of the commission of the offence till it consummates into a finality, can be averted. In this context, it may be noted that the constitutional guarantee of speedy trial is properly reflected in section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Source : M.A. Rashid, Supreme Court Guidelines and Precedents

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